By Tendai Rupapa
A local businessman who reportedly swindled his business partners of close to $1,6 million yesterday appeared in court facing charges of theft and theft of trust property. Tony Renato Sarpo (52) is a former partner at Matabeleland Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, which is in the business of manufacturing and servicing gold mining equipment for small- and large- scale miners.
Sarpo allegedly received funds on behalf of the company and converted it to his own use. He also stands accused of selling the company’s seven vehicles that included two Landcruisers, a UD truck, Toyota Ipsum, Hyundai SUV and two Mazda B1800 trucks and pocketing the money.
He was not asked to plead to the charges when he appeared before Ms Barbra Chimboza, who freed him on $1 000 bail with the State’s consent.
Sarpo is being represented by Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara instructed by Mr Kelvin Madzedze of Mawere Sibanda Commercial Lawyers.
Prosecutor Miss Audrey Chogumaira assisted by Ms Linda Gadzikwa alleged that in 2013, Gareth David Fury, who was a partner at Matabeleland Engineering (Pvt) Ltd relocated to Australia and sold his shares to Sarpo for $475 000.
Sarpo, the State alleged, did not use his personal funds to purchase the shares, but instead took advantage of his position as the company’s financial director and allegedly stole $105 000 which he used as part payment.
During the same year, Sarpo reportedly stole more than $70 000 from the company’s coffers.
He is said to have transferred $10 000 and $64 443 to his companies – Hothfield and Peppy Motors respectively.
It is the State’s case that Matabeleland Engineering decided to import 90 motorbikes from China which they intended to sell to sugarcane farmers in Chiredzi.
Sarpo, who was allegedly given $150 000 by the company to import the motorbikes on its behalf, went on to import them in the name of one of his companies.
The offence came to light after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials delivered customs clearance certificates for the motorbikes to Matabeleland Engineering premises.
The court heard that between 2013 and 2016, Sarpo converted $557 000 to his personal use which was meant for the company.
According to the State, Matabeleland Engineering lost $1 621 712 to Sarpo and nothing was recovered.